An Interview with Priya Kambli

Kavi (Silver Chumcha), 13x19”, Archival Inkjet Print, 2009

Kavi (Silver Chumcha), 13 x 19”, archival inkjet print, 2009.

Priya Kambli’s exhibition opened today and will be up through September 19, 2009.  There will be a reception in School of Art Foyer for this exhibition, the Annual Art Faculty Exhibition, and the Annual MFA Candidate Group Show on September 4, 2009, from 5-7PM.  We are excited to be showing her work and recently asked her a few questions:

How did you arrive at the format for your image making?

The format happened quite organically when I transitioned from my earlier work “The Suitcase Series”.  In the earlier series I was contrasting objects and images by placing them within the confines of the suitcase’s separate compartments.  When I started working on the current body of work I wanted to continue exploring the idea of creating a whole out of several contrasting elements.  But, for this body of work I chose to focus on working with images alone and eliminate the use of actual objects.

Many of your digital images contain a portion that uses an image of a piece of fabric.  Can you discuss the choice of using the image of fabric rather than the actual fabric collaged into the work?

The simple fact is I wanted these images to be seamless.  I didn’t want the fabrics to have more visual presence. For me, the fabric is just a small part of the whole narration.  Emphasizing it over the other elements would have meant tilting the balance of the narration conceptually.

In your artist’s statement, you refer to creating “convincing fictional depictions” of your new identity.  How do you navigate between your actual identity and the one you are constructing within your images?

Identity to me is creative or flexible, not definite.  In that regard, I’m not sure that there is some real “actual” identity that differs from my fictionally constructed self.  So the image acts like a mirror reflecting that activity of self-realization.

In the United States, photographic art depicting non-Euro-Western subjects is still apprehended as somewhat Other, and in fact, another contemporary photographer, Michael Buhler-Rose, has a series of photographs called “Constructing the Exotic” depicting women of Indian heritage in their new Western locations.  In which ways does your work, either, construct or deconstruct the Other (through the fictional depictions).

The elements considered “exotic” in my work are actually fairly familiar and comfortable for me.  Because I have a kind of cultural double vision I can see that they provide intrigue for the average Western viewer.  I am aware of how I am viewed, but frankly, I don’t know if my work either constructs or deconstructs the “Other”.  I am however concerned with the issue of assimilation and this is acknowledged in my effort to create of a hybrid identity.

Be sure to come by for the reception on September 4 and see the show before it closes on September 19.

One thought on “An Interview with Priya Kambli

  1. Interesting interview. I just wanted to make a correction that my series “Constructing the Exotic” are photographs of women of European descent that were born or raised in India now living in a community in Florida.

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